Gluteal pain includes any type of discomfort in the area of the buttocks. The buttocks are made up of three gluteal muscles behind the pelvis that help support the body while standing and enable many movements of the legs, hips and trunk. The buttocks also contain many nerves and blood vessels, while layers of fat cushion the pelvis when you are sitting.
Injury of one or more of the gluteal muscles, especially the gluteus maximus, which is the body’s largest muscle, can cause gluteal pain. Gluteal pain may also be caused by other diseases, disorders and conditions, as well as other nearby regions, such as the pelvis, tailbone, groin, and lower back.
Anyone can be affected by gluteal pain. This pain can be described in a variety of ways, such as pressure, numbness, tingling or burning. Depending on the cause, the pain can begin suddenly and disappear relatively quickly, such as from a contusion due to a minor injury. The pain can also develop with time and occur intermittently, such as with sciatica.
Some causes of glutel pain can be serious or lead to serious complications. Seek prompt medical care if you have unexplained gluteal pain or you are concerned about the pain.
The pain may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Additional symptoms that may occur along with buttock pain include:
Limited movement of the back or hip
Lower back pain
Muscle weakness or numbness
Pain, aches or stiffness in the hips, legs or groin
Snapping, popping or grinding sensation of the hip or lower back
Swelling (edema) of the buttocks
Temperature changes including warmth or burning sensations
Causes of Gluteal Pain
Gluteal pain can result from a variety of factors. For example, sitting for extended periods can cause pressure and numbness within the gluteal muscles. Strenuous activity combined with inadequate stretching or failure to properly warm up or cool down can lead to painful sprains and strains of the buttocks.
Gluteal pain can also develop because of other injuries as well as certain diseases and disorders within the buttocks or in other related areas, such as the pelvis, tailbone (coccyx), hips, upper legs, and lower back. Pain in the buttocks caused by a disease or condition in another area is called referred pain.
Injury and activity-related causes of Gluteal pain
Gluteal pain can be caused by injuries or trauma related to accidents, activities or exercise including:
Bone fractures and dislocations, such as that of the tailbone (coccyx), hip, pelvis, lower spine, and femur (thigh bone)
Contusions, abrasions and lacerations of the buttock, hip or rectal area
Muscle cramps in the gluteal muscles
Sprains (stretched or torn ligaments) of the hip or lower back (lumbar sprain)
Strains (stretched or torn tendons or muscles), such as a groin pull, strained lower back, or a pulled hamstring muscle in the back of the thigh
Tendinitis (tendon inflammation)
Conditions causing Gluteal pain
Gluteal pain can also be caused by diseases, disorders and other conditions including:
Arthritis of the hip
Bone cancer of the pelvis
Bursitis (inflammation of a bursa sac that cushions a joint). Bursitis can be caused by sitting for long periods on hard surfaces.
Compartment syndrome (painful condition caused by pressure within muscles that reduces vital blood flow to nerves and muscles)
Fibromyalgia (chronic condition causing pain, stiffness and tenderness of the muscles, tendons and joints)
Piriformis syndrome (pain, tingling or numbness in the buttocks caused by irritation of the sciatic nerve)
Sciatica (burning, shooting pain running from the buttocks down the back of the leg due to nerve compression caused by lumbar disc degeneration, tumors, or infection)
Spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal, creating pressure on the spinal cord or nerves)
Complications of gluteal pain vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder and condition. Gluteal pain caused by minor strains or overuse usually responds to home treatments, such as rest, ice, and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications.
In some cases, untreated gluteal pain due to serious conditions, such as a spine or hip fracture, can lead to complications. You can help minimize your risk of serious complications by following the treatment plan you and your health care professional design specifically for you. Complications of ongoing, untreated buttock pain include:
Decreased athletic performance
Poor quality of life
Reduced mobility, weakness or paralysis of the legs, back, and hips
The gluteus medius
Can become ridden with trigger points and become shortened and tight causing pain across the lower back, down into the hips extending down into the side of the leg and the back of the thigh making walking and moving extremely painful. Massage therapy helps relieve the pain by releasing trigger points and lengthening the muscle to restore balance to the pelvis.
The gluteus minimus
Can cause pain far from its location at the hip. A massage concentrating on releasing trigger points and muscle tightness can bring tremendous relief. Problems in the gluteus minimus affect many other muscles which will also need examination and treatment. Range of motion tests will determine massage treatment.
The gluteus maximus
Contributes to pain in the low back, hip and buttock area. Therapeutic massage can relieve pain and symptoms produced by the gluteal muscles. Trigger points along with determination of whether the muscle is shortened or over stretched, and examination and treatment of surrounding muscles can greatly reduce pain and symptoms. Examination and range of motion test are done to determine appropriate massage treatment.
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